Greetings from Papua New Guinea!
I arrived safely after a grueling 30 hours of travel from Houston that took me through Dallas, Brisbane, Australia and then to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Someone told me the Dallas to Brisbane route is the third longest operating in the world today. I believe it. Despite the length, my journey was pleasant, quiet and uneventful, all things for which I am thankful. Clean lavatories and no weird odors also help make them more tolerable.
My connection from Brisbane to Port Moresby was on Air Niugini – an interesting old plane that reminded me of my Piedmont Airlines days back in the 80’s. My Papua New Guinean attendant had to show me how to get the tray out of the armrest. I couldn’t remember how to do it. To her credit, she did not laugh at my privileged western incompetence, though I could read her thoughts. ‘First time flying this route?’ I tried not to think too much about the age of the plane and the type of pilot that would take a job in this isolated part of the world, mostly because I’ll be frequently flying that POM/BNE route and Air Niugini is the only game in town.
My fellow passengers were primarily guys headed to PNG for oil and gas related business. I recognized many of them from when we boarded in Dallas and I’d picked up bits and pieces of their conversations. There were also a few missionary families returning from leave. It was a reminder of the abundant missionary activity that takes place in this part of the world and a precursor of what God had in store for us here that I can’t wait to tell you about.
On our approach to Port Moresby I got my first glimpse of Melanesia. The little I knew about PNG and the surrounding seas and small islands comes mostly from the history books and what I know about World War II – the Coral Sea, the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands, etc.
I also remember hearing references to cannibalism and supernatural activity reported by missionaries who served in this region. Seeing it from above gave no hint of a past of sinking battleships and heads boiling in pots. It looked just like I remembered from one of my favorite movies, Swiss Family Robinson, beautiful and uninhabited.
PNG’s location in the South Pacific along the ring of fire means lots of seismic activity. Upon my arrival, Jeff greeted me with the news that there had been an earthquake in the Solomon Islands and that PNG was under a tsunami warning. For the second time in the last couple of years The Wizard of Oz came to mind, – “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”
As for those Air Niugini pilots, I have come to learn that many are former MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) pilots who lived and served in the highlands of PNG for many years. Yes, I may well have been traveling with some very special earthly angels who knew exactly what they were doing. Peace be with them.
Warm regards ‘til next time…